Dr. Ninan Abraham

Department of Microbiology and Immunology; Department of Zoology University of British Columbia


Dr. Ninan Abraham is a Professor in the UBC Department of Microbiology and Immunology and the Department of Zoology and the former Associate Dean, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion at the UBC Faculty of Science. His research focuses on the regulatory points in immune cell control with specific interest in airway immunity to pathogens and lung cancer. He arrived in Canada from Malaysia and Singapore to pursue a B.Sc. (Combined Hons, Biochemistry and Microbiology) at Dalhousie University. He then completed a M.Sc. (Experimental Medicine) at McGill University before doing a doctorate in Biochemistry at University of Ottawa. His Ph.D. research, unravelling the importance of a key anti-viral regulator in cells, led to the discovery of the utility of harmless viruses in killing cancer cells. This virotherapy is now in clinical trials to treat forms of cancer.
While serving as Associate Dean (2018-2022), he had responsibility for equity, diversity and inclusion initiatives, including the training of faculty search committees, faculty data analysis and reporting on EDI progress for the Faculty of Science. He played a key role in initiating disaggregated, data-informed metrics to shape faculty hiring policies that showed measurable impact. Baseline findings showed a differential barrier for racialized faculty candidates during the interview process. Key policy changes in faculty hiring, leadership roles and merit-based salary increments were instituted and have led to changes in best practices within UBC Science and beyond.